Public company

The Dutch East India Company (also known by the abbreviation “ VOC” in Dutch), the world's first formally listed public company, [1] started off as a spice trader. In 1602 the VOC undertook the world's first recorded IPO. " Going public" enabled the company to raise the vast sum of 6.5 million guilders quickly.

A public company, publicly traded company, publicly held company, publicly listed company, or public corporation is a corporation whose ownership is dispersed among the general public in many shares of stock which are freely traded on a stock exchange or in over the counter markets. In some jurisdictions, public companies over a certain size must be listed on an exchange. A public company can be listed ( listed company) or unlisted ( unlisted public company).


Courtyard of the Amsterdam Stock Exchange (or Beurs van Hendrick de Keyser in Dutch), the world's first formal stock exchange. [2] [3] [4] [5] Modern-day publicly-listed multinational corporations (including Forbes Global 2000 companies), in many respect, are all the "descendants" of a business model pioneered by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in the 17th-century. [6]
One of the oldest known stock certificates, issued by the VOC chamber of Enkhuizen, dated 9 Sep 1606. [7] [8] [9] [10]

In the early modern period, the Dutch developed several financial instruments and helped lay the foundations of modern financial system. [11] [12] The Dutch East India Company (VOC) became the first company in history to issue bonds and shares of stock to the general public. In other words, the VOC was officially the first publicly traded company, [13] because it was the first company to be ever actually listed on an official stock exchange. While the Italian city-states produced the first transferable government bonds, they did not develop the other ingredient necessary to produce a fully fledged capital market: corporate shareholders. As Edward Stringham (2015) notes, "companies with transferable shares date back to classical Rome, but these were usually not enduring endeavors and no considerable secondary market existed (Neal, 1997, p. 61)." [14]

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